China declares war… on pollution

28 March 2014

Steel and cement production will be cut in China in a bid to combat smog as the government announces a "war on pollution".

Chinese premier Li Keqiang unveiled detailed measures to tackle what has become a serious social issue at the opening of the annual meeting of parliament on 4 March.

"We will resolutely declare war against pollution as we declared war against poverty," Li told the almost 3,000 delegates in a televised address.

Among the measures announced, China will cut outdated steel production capacity by a total of 27 million tonnes this year, slash cement production by 42 million tonnes, and also shut down 50,000 small coal-fired furnaces across the country, Li said.

According to Reuters, however, the cuts are proportionately small.

Security personnel stand guard at Tiananmen Square blanketed in smog on 27 March in Beijing (Xiao Lu Chu/Getty Images)

The 27 million tonnes of steel, while equivalent to Italy’s total production capacity, amount to less than 2.5% of China’s total output.

Industry officials told Reuters that plants with another 30 million tonnes of annual output went into construction last year.

The cement factory closures amount to less than 2% of last year’s total production.

Premier Li said the battle against pollution will also be waged via reforms in energy pricing to boost non-fossil fuel power.

Li promised change in "the way energy is consumed and produced" through the development of nuclear and renewables, the deployment of smart power transmission grids, and the promotion of green and low-carbon technology.

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